Lecture on Timbuktu Manuscripts at Al-Furqan Foundation

Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation organizes on Wednesday 6th March 2013, starting at 18.00, a lecture on Islamic manuscripts in West Africa at the seat of Al-Furqan in London.

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Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation organizes on Wednesday 6th March 2013, starting at 18.00, a lecture on Islamic manuscripts in West Africa at the seat of Al-Furqan in London.

The lecture will be given by Charles Stewart, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Visiting Scholar at Northwestern University's Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa. It will be entitled:

The Manuscripts of Timbuktu and Islamic Writing in West Africa: From the Veneration of Objects to the Object of their Veneration.

Synopsis of the lecture:

"Timbuktu" is something of a metaphor for a long tradition of Islamic learning and writing in West Africa that is subsumed (and sometimes lost) in the fabled name of the northern Malian city. This was well illustrated in the recent crisis in Timbuktu when international alarm was rightly sounded over the possible destruction of manuscripts. The much larger manuscript repositories of this literary tradition in Mauritania, and the equally important collections in Niger and Nigeria, for instance, had no part of the story. These many manuscript collections, separated by multiple national borders, of course represent a single Islamic scholarly heritage (that is, in part, linked to Timbuktu). But this can only be demonstrated by examining the most commonly found teaching texts found in manuscript collections across West Africa. This lecture will look at this 'core curriculum' used during the last 300 years and ask how we can move from venerating the manuscripts that have preserved it to understanding the intellectual achievements these manuscripts contain.

Charles Stewart is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Visiting Scholar at Northwestern University's Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa. Professor Stewart has written widely on Islam in West Africa in the 18th through 20th centuries. He is the author of Islam and Social Order in Mauritania: A Case Study from the Nineteenth Century and the founder of the Arabic Manuscript Management System, a bilingual database of over 20,000 Arabic manuscripts from West Africa.

The programme of the evening: 

17.30 - 18.00:         Reception and networking

18.00 - 18.10:         Welcoming words

18.10 - 19.30:         Lecture by Professor Charles Stewart

19.30 - 20.00:         Discussion

20.00:                       Closing of the event 

Fore more information, visit the website of Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation at www.al-furqan.com.

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